Creeps, Toadies, Goons and Martinets

I remember my eighth-grade history teacher telling the class that one of the many blessings of living in these United States is that citizens could not be harassed by retroactive laws.  The quiet fervor with which I recited the Pledge of Allegiance the next morning was perceptibly amplified.  I already had a guilty conscience, and the thought that today’s acts might merit punishment under tomorrow’s law was more than I could bear.

All these years later, my conscience is no less guilty, but my eighth-grade history teacher is dead and I have no choice but to bear the thought that yesterday’s acts might merit punishment under today’s laws.  The long arm of the law now routinely nabs new-minted outlaws from that Robber’s Roost we call the past.   Time’s Arrow is now bent by the blubbery weight of social justice.

This has lately occasioned much anxiety in those who are not, by nature, mealy-mouthed poltroons, and who have, therefore, expressed their manly opinions with freedom and panache.  Those with a history of flippancy now shuffle through life with dark circles under their eyes, waiting for a visit by the Secret Police.  Flippancy is blasphemy in hindsight, and the New Gods are exceedingly vain and jealous gods.

I am not unfamiliar with that anxiety, that shuffle, or those dark circles under the eyes, but I am trying to cultivate a certain debonair insouciance.  Not because I think it will throw off the rats, the finks, or the stoolies.  Not because I think it will melt the heart of a hanging judge.  I am trying to cultivate a certain debonair insouciance because the disciples of the New Gods are, without exception, creeps, toadies, goons and martinets.

It would be a very shameful thing to have lived a life that would pass inspection by this mutant crew of sour cogs and sadist freaks.  So turn that anxiety around and take heart.  Indictment under their loathsome law is a mark of honor, conviction the crown of glory.

7 thoughts on “Creeps, Toadies, Goons and Martinets

    • That earthy expression has two meanings, both problematic and therefore dangerous. It can be an expression of astonishment or an expression of indifference to public opinion. The safe course is to be astonished by nothing, while at the same time quaking with fear at the thought of public disapproval.

  1. “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”

    William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 2

    • These words are of course easiest to quote on a pleasant summer afternoon in the prime of life, but that doesn’t detract from their truth.

    • One of my late uncles (and they are all now unpunctual), Dave, was one of the Rats of Tobruk, a moniker intended by Rommel as an insult, which was worn as a badge of honour by the Rats to their dying days.
      My father told me that, when the direness of his and the Rats’ situation dawned on Dave, he remembered his mother’s words, paraphrased as “a coward dies a thousand deaths; a brave man dies but once,” and, thus fortified, lay on his back behind his meagre parapet and counted the shells flying over.
      There was an enthusiasm for war, at least initially, but opportunties to test that maxim mostly come unbidden and unwelcomed.
      Please keep us abreast of your situation.

      • I’m under no particular pressure at the moment. I just wanted to encourage any readers who might be, without giving them false hopes. Vilification hurts, and especially hurts normal, decent people. If I can help, I’d like to assure them that they are being vilified by villains.

  2. Pingback: Creeps, Toadies, Goons and Martinets | Reaction Times

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